by Jackie Bagwell
Ready to take your arts and crafts to the next level? In this article, we'll go over how to set up your products at a craftshow in a profitable way.
Step 1. Create Your Product
Before you get started on finding a festival, you'll want to determine which of your products you can make easily and quickly, and can set up at a craft show. It's a good idea to choose items that are unique to your style and that you can mass produce when needed. Keep in mind you'll be traveling with this product, displaying it, and will be creating a lot of the product at any given time. You'll want enough items to fill a large (10' x 10') display without running out of items. If a customer is forced to wait for the product until after a craft show, they'll likely lose interest.
Step 2. Find Your Festival
A good way to decide what kind of festival is best for you is simply to go to festivals. Take a look at the vendors that are currently booked at certain shows in your area, and what the attendees are looking for. Keep in mind that you don't want too much competition for your own product, but you do still want to stay relevant to the theme of the festival. Talk to the vendors at the show to see what their experience is. Be sure to do your homework.
Step 3. Get Booked And Get Going
Take a look at the vendor requirements for your chosen festival, and contact the event organizer with any questions. Fill out any application required by the event, and be sure to follow up after submitting via email or phone to check on your application's status. Make sure you have enough time between application approval and the event date to create any product inventory you may need. It's also a good idea to get event insurance. The last thing you need is to be financially responsible for any off-chance accidents that could happen. Sometimes the event offers insurance, most times they do not.
Step 4. Setting Up Your Booth
First find out if the event is indoor or outdoor. From there, you can choose what kind of display you'd like. Decide whether you want to display your items on a table or on a lattice. Take the customer experience into consideration: customers like to be able to get close and touch products, rather than look at them from under glass. If your item is wearable, set it up in a way that encourages your customer to try on the product, and set up a mirror they can see themselves in. If your event is outoors, you'll need to set up a tent. You can get easy-to-set-up tents for events for around $200. Check with the event organizers to see if there are any stipulations about the kind of tent you can have, but plan on using something to anchor your tent down against wind.
You also want to create an inviting display for your products. Make a sign for your business that will catch your customers' attention. Lay out business cards so that people can take one as they walk by. If it's an outdoor event in the summer time, considering getting a small promotional product that you can give away for free like a paper fan with your company name and website on it.
Step 5. Forms of Payment
Most people will carry cash with them to festivals, and can easily pay cash or check for an item under $20. Make sure you have plenty of change with you to give your customers change when needed. If your items are over $20 a piece, you can also accept credit cards. Good ways to safely take credit card orders at an event is to set up a PayPal account and have a laptop to enter this information at the event. Allow your customer to see what you're doing or to enter the credit card number themselves to ensure trust. Remember that because of credit card theft issues, you want to be extra careful about taking credit card orders. If the event doesn't allow you electricity or Wi-Fi access, you can also look into getting a phone-swipe credit card processor to use with a cell phone. Be sure you have thought through a method that makes this quick and easy with the customer, but don't expect to be able to write the credit card number down for later processing, your customers will not be comfortable with this.
Step 6. Attracting Your Buyer
Your display should be visible from a short distance. Openly display your items and business name so that people walking by can clearly see what you're selling, and feel invited to take a closer look. Let your customer browse a little before approaching them, and give them enough space to grow interest in your product. Once they start touching items and making eye contact, it's time to make conversation. It's a good idea to ease into a natural conversation rather than going straight for a hard sell approach. This will invite your customer to chat back easily, and even be more open about what they're looking for, rather than pressuring them into making an immediate purchase. This is also helpful for you as it will allow you to get to know your customer base and gives you a firm idea of who you're selling to for future planning.
Step 7. Keep Track of Your Expenses
Save every receipt and write down every expense you encounter along the way. This includes gas, mileage on your car, any overnight stays, meals, booth fees, display items, materials to make your product, etc. Keep in mind most everything you spend money on to create and sell your product is tax deductable. You can also determine how successful a festival is for you by determining an hourly wage. Add up your total expenses, and subtract them from your earnings from the show. Divide that number by how many hours you spent making and selling your product, and you'll see how much you made per hour on average. Consider yourself as an employee, and decide if this is the amount you'd like to make for your time and effort. If you feel the number is too low, it may be time to look for different shows. Remember that this is a learning process, and be open to making changes to your approach as you notice them.
Check out the FNO Pro Search page to find events in your area!